To be frank, our initial motivation to get started in cloth diapering was purely monetary. At the time I had no idea of the controversy over the chemicals in disposable diapers as well as the potential health risks for my girls.It wasn’t until I started to read more blogs and articles about cloth diapers did I become aware of dioxins. I, not being a scientist, did not immediately know what they are and it can be difficult to find reliable information about controversial topics from biased websites dedicated to both sides of the cause. Because I wanted real answers, I decided to do some research myself. I had a list of questions I wanted answered and was shocked by some of the answers I found!
I wanted to know what exactly dioxins are and the health risk the posed to my family. I then wanted to know if they really were in disposable diapers, and if so, why? I wanted to get a big picture understanding of dioxin and diapers.
Dioxins are a group of chemically-related compounds that are persistent environmental pollutants. They are mainly formed through manufacturing processes like bleaching pulp and herbicide production. Dioxins are highly toxic and can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer. Dioxins are everywhere in our environment and the greatest risk to our health comes from direct exposure. There is no current research to show if there is a safe amount when it comes to the amount of exposure.
I’ve spent two days researching for this blog and I haven’t been able to find a website that states that dioxins are NOT found in disposable diapers, many researchers quickly point out that our diet is a far greater risk to exposure to dioxin than disposable diapers. They claim that the levels would need to be 100-1,000 times greater per diaper to be of concern. They also point out that dioxins can be found in bleached cloth diapers.
My first thought was I am so glad we use organic unbleached prefolds!
And secondly, if there is no known safe threshold for dioxin exposure, why shouldn’t there be concern over the levels, however minute, in disposable diapers? I’ve not been able to find research that studies the long term effects of low exposure for over two years, since most children are in diapers for that long. This to me would be of great concern, they may only get a little bit of dioxin exposure from each diaper but they are wearing these diaper nearly continuously for years!
While there are not many “studies” done that are showing great risk to our children from dioxin exposure related to diapers, there are plenty that agree that dioxins are found in diapers and if you dig a little deeper you don’t need a rocket scientist (or a mommy blogger) to tell you something isn’t right!
Britt Schwartz is:
Mommy to her daughters, Payton (’09) & Sawyer (’11)
Wife to her best friend, Matt.
Owner of Nelly’s Nappies in Fort Myers, FL.